Last night was the first night of the new session in the recently founded NAPA league in my town. First impressions were good overall. I joined a team captained by a player I know loves playing, is a good shot, and a good strategist when it comes to getting people games and getting the team to Nationals.
The division we’re in is a small one, with only 5 teams at the moment, across three locations. So, last night it was just two teams matching up. It’s a double-jeopardy league, 8-ball and 10-ball. The other team had some player issuers (missing players) so they had to forfeit one round. They picked up a player that was just hanging out in the room, he shot well and was gifted his first wins in any league he’s ever played. Sucks for us, but good for him – hopefully he’ll stick around. Seemed nice enough.
For me, I had an absolutely stellar night. Even though I missed a couple break’n’run opportunities, I was still able to play almost perfect pool. It helped that my opponent was having an off-night. I played 8-ball first, and after losing the 1st rack, I won the next 4 by just playing smart. Defense instead of aggression. Although, when I found myself in this position, I knew the shot was a favorite for me to make it.
I overhit the 10 ball a bit and nearly hooked myself on the 9 ball. I had the only edge I needed however, for the cross-corner bank. The trick was to play the cue-ball 4 rails for shape on the 8-ball. The tables were playing really short on the multi-rail positions, so I made a little adjustment, and fired it. The 9-wobbled, but it dropped and once the CB got out of the upper corner, I knew I was in good shape to win the match.
Later, in my 10-ball match I drew the same player again. I lost the lag, but it didn’t stop me from winning 4 racks in a row to win the match. In the 3rd rack, after making the 6-9 combo, I mis-judged where the 6 would go and ended up nearly frozen to the back of the 6. I was nearly dead straight in anyway, so I knew if I could just jack up and do a little masse-draw I’d probably get a good enough angle on the 8 to get to the 10. It worked better than I could’ve planned.
It helped that I cut the 6 a little bit, which gave the CB a little curving action to even better get across table for the easy 8-to-10 route.
The captain is confident that I’ll likely win top-shooter in 10-ball, she’s familiar with my game from the APA so it isn’t just one night’s opinion. It’s kind of a lot of pressure, but it’s also flattering, and I do look forward to seeing just how far I can go.
Now for the NAPA specifics. First and foremost, every shot is a CALL BALL/POCKET shot. E.v.e.r.y. shot. That’s awesome. No slop. Also, I can push-out after the break in 10-ball. In 8-ball, the table is open after the break, regardless of what suite you make. So, no punishment for the breaker (a very common thing in barbox 8-ball). I can call a SAFE shot and pocket my own ball, making the opponent shoot from where the cueball lies. I haven’t needed that rule yet, but I can really see its advantage. And lastly, jump-cues ARE allowed.
As for skill levels, I’m a 6 in APA 8-ball, so I’m starting at a 70 in NAPA, but after beating an 80 (twice) last night, I’ll likely go to a 75 (so thinks the people with experience). The ratings are adjusted every week, so there’s no point in someone sandbagging. It doesn’t really help them individually – but it really hurts the team when someone loses a match. Another thing I really like about the NAPA format – it’s centered on the team’s performance, as a whole. Losing a match, gets your team, at most 3 points. Winning a match, secures 14 points (or 20, if your opponent doesn’t win a single rack). A player can earn extra points FOR THE TEAM by breaking and running out, or making the money ball on the break. It doesn’t do anything for you, personally (no skill level adjustments, etc).
Last night, I had it kind of easy, I had a 4-5 race (me going to 4) in both 8 and 10 ball formats; I don’t expect that to be the case next week. And since there’s only a handfull of higher skill levels, I imagine I’ll have to start giving games on the wire pretty soon. Time will tell.
Tonight is the 1st round of playoffs for APA Masters. If I understand everything correctly, if we win tonight, we’re guaranteed to go to Vegas, as the 98% sure winner of the other match has already qualified for Vegas. So… this is an exciting time for me/pool.
Monday begins the spring session of the in-house league at Cue & Cushion; where I’ve finally been raised to an A – after I told the LO that if I’m on the fence, just put me over the edge. I’m gonna need to bring my game every week, there’s 17 players this time; so every match is worth a significant amount of money – projecting to the end-league winnings.
Next Friday, I’ll be at the DERBY CITY CLASSIC!! 🙂 🙂